CC 302
Lecture 18 Images
Updated 11/6/2015

Lecture 19: Early Christianity in its Roman Context

From Lect. 17: the finale of the "Good" Emperors

I. Christianity and pagan antiquity:

the general perspective; the pagan/Christian symbiosis:
catacomb paintings, Justin Martyr (2nd cent. A.D.) and the Platonic logos

II. Factors contributing to the rise

A. unified empire; oikumené
B. Greek language; koiné; Vulgate, St. Jerome (A.D. 348-420)
C. St. Paul from Tarsus
D. economic crisis and political instability in the 3rd cent. A.D.

III The religious atmosphere in the principate

1) no religious wars, but tolerance and syncretism (cf. Pantheon and
Amy Chua's chapter in the Course Packet, pp. 193-222).

2) the organization of the early church - a parallel universe to the empire:
presbyters,deacons, episkopoi, metropolitans, pontifex maximus in Rome

3) Some reasons for persecution

A. emperor worship and state cults; Christ vs. Antichrist
B. illegal organization
C. misunderstandings of doctrine, agapé vs. eros -- Agapé today
D. Christian supremacy claims vs. religious pluralism and toleration
E. economic reasons; Diana of Ephesus (Acts 19; Course Packet, pp. 155f.).

Intermission: Roman justice (from Jesus of Nazareth 1977)

IV. Christian doctrines and Greco-Roman thought - some specific passages in the Course Packet:

1. Paul at Athens: the body's resurrection (Acts 17.32) - p. 157

2. Paul at Ephesus: economic resistance to Christianity (Acts 19) - pp. 157f.

3. Paul on marriage and sex (I Corinthians 7) - pp. 160f.; cf. popular pagan moralists on soma = sema

V . Christian doctrines and Greco-Roman thought in general

A. monotheism; Xenophanes (6th cent. B.C.); Stoicism; the difference: a loving god
B. God the son

1. death, passion, resurrection: Asclepius, Adonis, Osiris and Isis
2. mediator: Dionysus, Mithras, Roman emperor

C. the Holy Spirit -- to hagion pneuma

Instructions for devotees of Agdistis, 2nd cent. A.D.

(Philadelphia in Lydia [Asia Minor])

"Let men and women, slave and free, when coming into this shrine swear by all the gods that they will not deliberately PLAN any evil guile, orbaneful poison against any man or woman; they will neither know nor use any harmful spells; that they will neither turn to nor recommend to others norhave a hand in any love-charms, abortives, contraceptives, or doing robbery or murder; that they will steal nothing but will be well-disposed to this house, and if any man does or PURPOSES any of these things they will not keep silence but will reveal and avenge. A man is not to have relations with the wife or another, whether a free man or a married slave, or with a boy, or with a virgin, or to COUNSEL this to another . . . Let not woman or man who do the aforementioned acts come into this shrine; for in it are enthroned mighty deities, and they observe such offenses, and will not tolerate those who transgress their commands . . . These commands are set up by the rule of Agdistis, the most holy guardian and mistress of this shrine. May she put good INTENTIONS in men and women, free and slave alike, that they abide by what is here inscribed; and may all men and women who are confident of their uprightness touch this writing, which gives the commandments of the god . . ."


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